Article on Technology and Youth

This article is pretty interesting about the changing world that today’s youth are being brought up in. In a recent survey, 14% of kids age 4 or 5 could tie their shoes, while 21% could play or operate at least one smartphone app. It seems that kids are able to operate pretty sophisticated technology at very y0ung ages. This seems very promising for educational game designers because it seems their products are very attractive to kids and parents even before these kids enter formal schooling. But it also brings up the question of when kids should be introduced to technology. Its a little bit strange that before kids know their address, can tie their shoes, or know to call 911 in an emergency, that they are able to operate computer games and surf the web. It also points to the content that young kids are exposed to through technology at such an impressionable age.

Rapid Reaction Ender’s Game: Games vs. Reality

Funny that you question if video games are becoming too real. I have always thought that with games that are supposed to mimick real life situations, having authentic qualities is important. While I’m still not sure if I see what the problem is with having ‘too real’ of a game, the book Ender’s Game deals with the interplay between games and reality. I don’t want to spoil any of the book for those of you who haven’t gotten to it yet, but immediately after finishing it I thought of how poignant the virtual games were in the young battle school children’s lives. The virtual battleroom consume vast amounts of Ender’s time -pushing him to his physical and mental limit. It shapes his relationships with his fellow classmates and isolates him from the rest of the school. In the end, Ender cannot even tell the difference between games and reality…I know this might be slightly immaterial to what we will be studying; however, Card’s emphasis on the interaction between the virtual world and reality is an important theme in the novel.

Interesting Idea for a Video Game

I’m sure a few of you have stumbled on this before. Not necessarily the most complex game but its theme is based on the famous American classic. Just another example of how things taught in school can be fun provided that they are put in the right context.

click here to play the game:

Similarities Between Chess and Video Games

I grew up playing competitive chess in middle school and have been following some recent development in inner-city schools where chess programs are used as tools for alternative education. Mostly, children who have trouble staying focused in regular classes or get caught up in juvenile crime have been reassigned to these types of programs where chess plays an important role in their education. While the difference between chess and most video games are pretty substantial, there are also many similarities that make both chess and video games attractive for use in education. In the article listed above, school administrators cite certain skills used in playing chess that can be applied more broadly to life. The teachers claim that chess teaches students how to focus, to build and execute a plan, and other important problem solving skills. Additionally, chess is a game that is both intrinsically challenging and rewarding as one begins to win games.

The fact that chess is gaining popularity in certain schools points to the use of games for academic purposes. Benjamin Franklin discusses the benefits of the game of chess in an essay that can also be applied to today’s video games. He states, “several very valuable qualities of the mind, useful in the course of human life, are to be acquired and strengthened by it, so as to become habits ready on all occasions; for life is a kind of Chess, in which we have often points to gain, and competitors or adversaries to contend with, and in which there is a vast variety of good and ill events, (The Morals of Chess).” The advances in video game programming, design and subject matter will continue to strengthen their attractiveness as educational tools and their relevance to everday life. In addition, the acceptance of innovative approaches to education will further the possibility of incorporating video games into education on a larger scale. This will be an important and interesting development to keep an eye on in the years ahead and I would encourage those who are interested to check out the article posted above.

Be a Gamer, Save the World

This article was in the Wall Street Journal a few days ago about the benefits of video games. [Editor’s note – this article is Jane McGonigal in her own words.] Throughout the course so far, Gee and others have argued that the problem solving nature of a good game are beneficial regardless of the actual content of the game. I think this article would agree with that concept; however, the author takes it one step further. She recognizes how videos games are an intrinsic part of modern society, noting that the number of hours world-wide gamers have spent on World of War Craft amounts to 5.93 million years. She then goes on to discuss notable studies that use video games for real life problems such as folding virtual proteins to help cure cancer or Alzheimer’s, or another game that allowed gamers to design and launch their own real world enterprises. She argues that games can be used to solve real life problems through careful design and programming. Already we have seen that games can help us with math, problem solving, flight simulation and several other skills, yet by continuing this trend video games will permeate many other aspects of life. I think that by carefully expanding video game s to more educational concepts, learning can be seen more as fun then actual work. Either way, the adoption of video games for education use will be interesting to keep an eye on in the coming years.